Despite some of the best legislation in the world, South African industries leave hundreds dead or maimed, every year. Employers need to maintain a healthy work environment and employees need to be protected, both physically and against unscrupulous employer behaviour. Serious injuries in the workplace are far too common. Of the most common workplace injuries, the majority are random that can happen to anyone at any time. Let’s take a closer look at what the ten most common injuries are.
10. On the job violent acts
Workplaces can be a melting pot of cultures and personality types. This has pros and cons. It’s not uncommon for people may clash. And occasionally this can get so serious that it leads to physical fights or attacks. The violent escalation of office politics is a thing and workplace violence employee training and line managers watching for suspicious behaviour and defusing situations before they escalate, can help lessen these kinds of injuries.
9. Repetitive motion injuries
This is a far less obvious kind of injury, but definitely as harmful in the long run and for the future of the employee. Repetitive motions, such as typing or using repetitive motion around a machine, can strain muscles and tendons, cause back pain, lead to arthritis, problems with vision and carpal tunnel syndrome. Employees should be trained in the use of proper ergonomic equipment (where possible) or take responsibility for breaking the repetition regularly enough through breaks or walks.
8. Machinery injuries
These kinds of injuries are common on the floors of manufacturers or in mines where heavy machinery is operated. Clothing, shoes, fingers and hair are in close proximity to this machinery every day, and if proper precautions aren’t taken regarding safety and safety gear, eventually injuries happen. A hand slips and gets pulverised, long hair gets entangled, these injuries are often quite vicious and employers should make sure that proper safety regulations are in place and being followed strictly.
7. Vehicle accidents
It’s often necessary for some employees to drive a lot for business purposes. This puts them at risk of car accidents, which can bring anything from minor whiplash to death. Those employees who do spend a lot of time in the car for business should be sent toadvanced driving courses and adhere to strict company driving policies. A lot of companies will put vehicle trackers and speed limiters in their vehicles to help reduce these accidents.
6. Injuries through clumsiness
These injuries tend to occur when employees are tired or overworked, or simply not paying enough attention to their surroundings. People will walk into walls, doors, cabinets, glass windows etc. The results vary with injuries from head to knees, necks to feet. Enforced healthy working hours and activities that help employees concentrate can help reduce these sort of injuries.
5. Injury through falling objects
Injuries sustained through falling objects are most common amongst construction workers or those working in storage. Objects falling from shelves or dropped by another person can cause serious head injury. A brick dropped from just five metres, for example can cause severe brain damage and even be fatal. Personal protection gear such as hard hats, overalls and proper footgear can go a long way in minimising these injuries. Employees should be encouraged to pay attention at all times and be vigilant when working in proximity to others.
4. Reaction injuries
These very often go undetected. An inconspicuous slip or trip without falling might not get a second thought. But incidents like these can cause muscle injuries or hernias. It can be difficult to prevent such injuries, as it’s mostly employee clumsiness that causes it.
3. Falling from heights
Obviously specific industries lend themselves to this kind of injury: public service workers for example. Injuries occur when employees fall from elevated areas such as roofs, ladders or stairways. Caused through a slip or a fall, or due to faulty equipment, accidents like this can be greatly reduced through proper personal protection gear, equipment maintenance and thorough training.
2. Slipping or tripping
Like reaction injuries, these kinds of injuries can be very subtle. Employees slipping on wet floors or tripping over objects that shouldn’t be there can cause significant damage. A clean and orderly work environment can help reduce these kinds of injuries. Signage to remind employees of potential problem areas can also help.
1. Overexertion injuries
The number one spot includes injuries related to pulling, lifting, pushing, holding, carrying and throwing activities in the workplace. Imagine the construction worker who is constantly up and down a building site carrying heavy concrete bags and equipment. Eventually overexertion is going to come to the fore and can result in back injuries, strained muscles and even broken bones. These sort of injuries not only occur the most frequently but are often the most expensive for companies.
Companies have plenty of options when it comes to workplace insurance. Asking questions such as: what are health insurance products, and how can we implement these products are good starting points. Training, diligence and proper safety equipment are paramount to reducing workplace injuries. Education is what takes workplace safety to the next level.